The bike stops here
University Police chief wants to ban bicycles completely on campus
Chico State University officials are considering whether to tighten campus restrictions on bicycling, a move that some bicycling advocates say is short-sighted.
Currently, the university’s Transportation Committee is looking to limit the area where bicyclists can ride on and around the campus. About one-third of the university’s students ride their bikes to school each day.
At the committee’s Sept. 1 meeting, according to its minutes, University Police Chief Leslie Deniz said there were a growing number of complaints of bicyclists breaking campus rules restricting where, when and how fast bicyclists can ride.
Currently, bicyclists can ride in the “campus core area” between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7:30 a.m., when pedestrian traffic is light.
Deniz has recommended that the committee consider prohibiting bike riding in the core area at all hours as well as expanding the core. The core currently includes the area east of Warner Street and north of First Street, along with the Bell Memorial Union. It excludes the area west of Arcadian Avenue.
Deniz proposed that the core be changed to include First, Normal, Chestnut and Hazel streets.
Some committee members said trying to encourage bicycling while also trying to promote safety is difficult. Stephanie Yule, who works in the Financial Aid Office and is a committee member, said the group will do everything it can to accommodate bicyclists, but that it must look at the safety of pedestrians as well.
“We see a lot of close calls,” she said. “And we see a lot of people who don’t behave very well.”
Deborah Furgason, chief’s assistant for the University Police, said the proposals are in the preliminary stages and that the committee is currently listening to both sides. “What we’re hoping for is that we reach a consensus so we can make a recommendation to the university,” Furgason said.
That consensus may not be easily reached. Russell Mills, a professor and chairman of the Civil Engineering Department at Chico State, is a member of the campus Bicycle Advisory Committee and Chico VELO, a local bicycle advocacy club, and attended the most recent meeting of the Transportation Committee. Expanding the core area will force cyclists to take more congested routes around the campus, he said.
Instead, he said, Chico State should look to campuses like Stanford and Davis that are both bike and pedestrian friendly.
“Hopefully the campus will realize that cycling is a primary source of transport,” Mills said.
Mills said that unfortunately it takes only a few people to abuse the laws and that if the committee moves forward with the recommendations, it will discourage bike riding all together.
“We don’t ban cars when they have accidents on the streets,” he said pointedly.
Some believe simple education is the answer, not new laws. Kirk Monfort, who’s been on the Chico Planning Commission for 15 years, said the issue needs to be looked at from every angle and by more than just the university. “I’d like to see them work with the city to develop a bike plan.”
Some members of the committee are avid bicyclists and believe that limiting bike riding goes against the university’s attempt at becoming a “green campus.” Brian Oppy, a member of the Academic Senate and an appointee to the Transportation Committee, said the committee hasn’t considered that the university is trying to become a green campus. Oppy has proposed that the campus designate a bike trail area through campus.
“They’re diametrically opposed," Oppy said. "If you want to become a green campus, you need to explore other options."